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A Financial Web Site About the Cost of Home Improvements Reveals Homeowners Plan to Improve, Not Move

Log preferences on www.diyornot.com show users as practical and pragmatic
    ST. MICHAELS, MD, April 03, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A look at the analytics of web site users of www.diyornot.com reveals their preferences in the home improvement projects they're planning. The focus of the site compares the cost of hiring a contractor with doing it yourself and features cost data for hundreds of repair, redecorating and remodeling jobs. It gives site visitors a starting point for planning a budget and an overview of what's involved which is featured on the main site and its companion mobile site www.m.diyornot.com.

On both sites the most viewed project is the job cost for refinishing hardwood floors followed by painting cabinets, paneling and stained wood. These restoration projects involve using what's there and making it better instead of ripping out and replacing them. These are consistent with the findings of the recently released The U.S. Housing Stock: Ready for Renewal from Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies that reports older homeowners, in particular, are retrofitting their homes to accommodate their evolving needs. And the interest in home renewal is projected to be immense as the emerging younger generation become homeowners.

"As baby boomers move into retirement, they are increasing demand for aging-in-place retrofits," says Kermit Baker, director of Harvard's Remodeling Futures Program. Ten years ago less than one third of home improvement spending was by homeowners over 55. By 2011 spending in that group had grown to over 45%.

Boomers interest in staying in control - and in their home - as they age is reflected in the most popular content area on the site's Age Proofing a Home. These improvements are being done by users who want to age in place and stay in their homes and neighborhoods, and by adult children helping their parents do the same. To that group add the 7 million American households with more than one generation - grandparents, parents and children - moving in together to save money and to take care of each other.

These improvements can be basic upgrades like preventing a tripping hazard with a transitional floor threshold where there are two different floor levels, or installing a second handrail on the wall of a staircase. In the bathroom one of most popular job costs is remodeling a seldom used bathtub into a more accessible shower stall with a retrofit unit designed for a standard 5-foot alcove. Gene Hamilton, co-founder of the site, says, "We've been online since 1999 tracking job cost data and while there was a rise in large scale projects in the past, the interest today is hanging on to what you have and improving instead of moving."

As home improvement spending inches its way upward many homeowners are remodeling, but with more modest projects. Instead of an expensive room addition they are more likely to take advantage of unused space already under roof, like in the basement. This bonus space is typically already heated so converting it from a catch-all storage area to meaningful living space expands the use of the house.

Remodeling a basement to create a home office, playroom or in-law apartment is clearly on the planning boards of site visitors because a look at user activity shows continued high interest in two job costs in particular: installing a suspended (drop) ceilings and covering up basement support columns with a finished flexible wood veneer at its top and base. When polled if they'd do these jobs themselves or hire a pro, more than 60 percent say they'd tackle the project.

For each of the projects on the site there's a national average cost that includes the labor and material. A cost box with a zip code entry can determine a regional adjustment, a feature that's used by more than a third of the site visitors. The continued growth of the site through good and bad economic times indicates the ongoing interest of homeowners who want to know the cost of a job before they decide to do it themselves or hire a contractor.

DIYorNot.com is the online edition of the newspaper column of the same name, which is syndicated by Tribune Media Services. The feature analyzes the cost of hundreds of improvement projects and has been in syndication since 1987. More information can be accessed online at www.diyornot.com and m.diyornot.com.


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Katie Hamilton
www.diyornot.com

St. Michaels, MD
USA
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